Tailors Turn Stand Up Paddling Champions in Thoothukudi

R Muthukutti and Two Others Win Palk Bay Stand Up Paddleboarding Championship

In a surprising turn of events, R Muthukutti, V Muthumariammal, and R Ramalakshmi, who have never lived by the sea and had little experience with large water bodies, emerged victorious at the Palk Bay Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) championship. Despite only one week of training, the three women managed to secure gold, silver, and bronze medals in the 200-metre open sprint race held at Quest Academy in Ramanathapuram on September 14 and 15. Muthukutti, a 19-year-old student who had focused on the sport of Silambam and her studies, was particularly surprised by her win. Until recently, she had never even swum in the sea surrounding Palk Bay.

Before joining the competition, Muthukutti and her two teammates visited Quest Academy as part of a skill exchange outreach program initiated by Loyal Mills and the adventure sports academy. During their four-day visit, the women learned to balance on paddleboards and honed their athletic abilities, transforming them into formidable competitors in the stand up paddling competition’s open category. Under the guidance of Jehan Driver, a coach presenter for the International Surfing Association and proprietor of Quest Academy, the women overcame their initial fear of water and quickly gained confidence to navigate the paddleboards with skill and strength.

Ramalakshmi expressed her elation upon seeing both her colleagues and friends cross the finish line ahead of other competitors. Despite initially feeling scared, participating in both Silambam and SUP has given her newfound confidence. Muthumariammal also highlighted her enjoyment of the competitive nature of sports and expressed her eagerness for further training.

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Loyal Textiles, through its executive director Vishala Ramaswami, aims to introduce unique sports such as fencing, SUP, and taekwondo to the youth in tier-two and three cities who often lack access to such facilities. The organization believes that these programs not only build self-confidence but also enrich the lives of young people. Muthukutti, now gearing up for the next tournament in the national category, will continue to balance her schedule at the mill with her love for Silambam.

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